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Three Furman seniors, three graduates receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

April 26, 2012
by Erikah Haavie, Contributing Writer

GREENVILLE, S.C.—The National Science Foundation has selected three Furman University seniors and three Furman graduates as 2012 recipients of highly competitive Graduate Research Fellowships.

Five Furman chemistry majors, past and present, were selected for the honor, including 2012 graduating seniors Annelise Gorensek of Aiken, Megan Novak of Naperville, Ill., and James Wade of Elgin. Chemistry graduates Erin Gray ’11 of Tellico Plains, Tenn., and Natalie Gruenke ’11 of Cincinnati, Ohio also received fellowships, as did Hillary Mullet ’10 of Roanoke, Va., a graduate of the psychology program.

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships are designed to recognize scientific achievement at the undergraduate level and professional promise in graduate school for students pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited national institutions.  Each Fellow receives a three-year annual stipend of $30,000, an additional $10,500 cost-of-education allowance, and opportunities for international research and professional development.

Mullet is currently studying cognitive psychology in the doctoral program at Duke University, while Gray is a first-year graduate student at Princeton University, where she is studying chemical synthesis. Gruenke is a second-year graduate student at Northwestern University where she is studying chemical structure, dynamics, and mechanism.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in chemistry in May, Gorensek will pursue her doctorate in biochemistry at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Novak will study cancer biology at Northwestern University, and Wade will study analytical chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“It is a remarkable accomplishment for a liberal arts college of Furman’s size to have six current or former students to receive Graduate Research Fellowships in the same year, and the fact that five of these students were majors in chemistry is especially unique,” said Dr. John Wheeler, director of the Office of Integrative Research in the Sciences.

“We think the best way to teach science is to do science with students,” said Dr. Lon Knight, chair of Furman’s Chemistry Department. “It’s a testament to the experience they had at Furman.”

Furman students enjoy tremendous mentoring opportunities with faculty scientists, engaging in hands-on cutting-edge research during the school year and over the summer in small groups. Four of the six Furman awardees also participated as Research Fellows under Furman’s HHMI-BRIDGES program sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“Furman’s HHMI Fellows program follows a unique early and often model designed to give rising sophomores an extensive year-long research experience. With this outstanding preparation, it is no coincidence that these students are able to establish a remarkable record of research accomplishment at Furman that is recognized by NSF,” Wheeler said.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is the country’s oldest graduate fellowship program that directly supports graduate students in various science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Since 1952, the Foundation has funded more than 46,500 Graduate Research Fellowships out of more than 500,000 applicants. More than 30 of them have become Nobel laureates and more than 440 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences. The Graduate Research Fellowship program has a high rate of doctoral degree completion, with more than 70 percent of students completing their doctorates within 11 years.

For more information, contact Furman’s New and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

Last updated February 17, 2016
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director